US immigration law: Advocates oppose DNA collection

| Mar 28, 2020 | U.s. Immigration Law |

If a Florida household includes a family member who was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, it can cause stress and worry for the entire family. U.S. immigration law is complex, and policies are constantly changing. It can be challenging for the average person to know his or her rights and how to protect them in detention.

Many immigrant advocates have been speaking out about the U.S. Department of Justice’s ruling that DNA samples may be collected from immigrants being held in detention. In 2010, the then-Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security implemented an exclusion, stating that if a detained immigrant was not facing criminal charges or was awaiting deportation proceedings, he or she would not be subjected to DNA collection. However, the DOJ has now ruled that the DHS Secretary no longer has the authority to make such exclusions, which were heretofore made in consultation between the DHS Secretary and the Attorney General.

Now, the Attorney General will have sole authority to exclude certain classes of people from DNA collection in immigrant detention situations. Many immigrant advocates say that vast collection of DNA without due cause creates potential for future misuse of personal information. Such advocates also say there is no logical purpose for collecting DNA samples from immigrants who have never been convicted of a crime, charged with a crime or even arrested on suspicion of a crime.

Those who oppose the new U.S. immigration law ruling argue that mass DNA collection without cause is an invasion of privacy and criminalizes immigrant communities. It has also been noted that such an undertaking would place tremendous burden on federal laboratories and increase backlog in the administrative system. Any Florida immigrant who is unsure about his or her rights in detention may request a meeting with an experienced attorney who is well-versed in such issues.

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